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press gang

or pressgang

a body of persons under the command of an officer, formerly employed to impress others for service, especially in the navy or army.
Origin of press gang


[pres-gang] /ˈprɛsˌgæŋ/
verb (used with object)
to force (a person) into military or naval service.
to coerce (a person) into taking a certain action, political stand, etc.:
to be press-ganged into endorsing a candidate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for press gang
Historical Examples
  • The words aptly described the internal relationships of the press gang.

    Sonia Between two Worlds Stephen McKenna
  • Death or desertion offered the only way of escape to the victim of the press gang.

  • It is not to be supposed that the Buccaneer's press gang were idle on such an occasion.

  • None foresaw that the day would come when a British press gang would seize free citizens in this same harbor.

    A short history of Rhode Island George Washington Greene
  • He would have made a splendid man-o'-war's man, and the press gang had more than once tried to secure him.

    The Pilots of Pomona Robert Leighton
  • They had been seized by the press gang and made slaves on board the frigate.

    Sustained honor John R. Musick,
  • But the press gang harvested its greatest crop of seamen on the seas.

  • While there the press gang came; the Duke was said to have been impudent to the lieutenant and was condemned to be flogged.

British Dictionary definitions for press gang

press gang

(formerly) a detachment of men used to press civilians for service in the navy or army
verb (transitive)
to force (a person) to join the navy or army by a press gang
to induce (a person) to perform a duty by forceful persuasion: his friends press-ganged him into joining the committee
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for press gang



1690s, from press (v.2) + gang (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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